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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Special Forces in Iraq; Finding Truth on WMD

June 26, 2003

Re "Secret Soldiers," Opinion, June 22: Secrecy and accountability are one thing, but the mission is another. The U.S. Special Forces have accomplished their tasks well, but other units could have done as well (albeit with more troops).

The fallout from assigning Special Forces, instead of regular units, as a "lighter, faster" force is twofold. First, the Special Forces failed in some of their primary missions, most notably to quickly find and make ineffective the enemy's leadership. Where is Osama bin Laden; where is Saddam Hussein? Without the leaders captured and in U.S. hands, there is prolonged guerrilla warfare in both Iraq and Afghanistan, with loss of American lives. Second, with fewer regular troops on the ground, the post-fighting control of the countries and their populations is more difficult. Nothing can replace a massive military presence in controlling the local population without having to fight it.

Adi Arieli

Los Angeles

*

It seems that our Special Forces can and have done everything. They were everywhere in Iraq. Then why did we not know where all the weapons of mass destruction were, and are? Surely, given all the infiltration accomplished by these forces, the president should have been better informed about these weapons. Or did he really know they weren't there?

Leonard A. Zivitz

Fullerton

*

Does anyone remember that Hussein is a known terrorist and has used WMD on his own people? That he is very conniving and deceitful and that he has movable units to hide the weapons and obstruct or otherwise mystify those who are looking for them? That he probably was laughing at the inspection teams while they were trying to find something that resembles WMD? He could have sent the weapons away to other nations (Syria or Iran, for example). Or in the past 10 to 11 years he could have destroyed them himself in some way. Don't underestimate his wily ways.

Maurine Reedy Ruzek

Los Angeles

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"Open Iraq Hearings Crucial" (editorial, June 19) opined that congressional hearings on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction should be open to the public and bemoaned the lack of cooperation thus far in Senate proceedings on the subject.

There has been considerable bipartisan cooperation on the question of WMD, and it is through such cooperation that I believe we will find the answers to which both Congress and the American people are entitled. As the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, I am proud of the agreement on WMD that committee Democrats forged with Chairman Porter Goss (R-Fla.). The committee's unanimous agreement lays out a framework for a focused and comprehensive inquiry. The committee has held two hearings: one on the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on WMD and the second on the current search for WMD in Iraq. Although both were closed because of the sensitive nature of the material, I have every expectation that the House Intelligence Committee's investigation will include public hearings.

The presence of WMD in Iraq provided the moral justification for waging war, and it is imperative that the weapons be found. It is equally imperative that Congress proceeds promptly to investigate the quality and accuracy of the WMD intelligence provided to policymakers and the public. In that regard, the House Intelligence Committee has an enormously important oversight responsibility to follow the facts unflinchingly -- wherever they may lead.

Rep. Jane Harman

D-Venice

*

While Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Tommy Franks got rave reviews for the war plan in Iraq, there seems to be a dearth of candidates claiming credit for the chaotic lack of a postwar plan.

Walter L. Ross

Fallbrook

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